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edit: Why is saying a prayer before eating called "saying grace?" God has grace in giving the food but wouldn't it be man's grace if we're "saying" it? or has it come from earlier when people were "asking" grace? (these questions aren't meant to be answered here, they just give background and clarity to why I'm asking about this use of grace).

I'm primarily asking about if the term "grace" as used for a prayer on food or before eating comes from the scriptures or from a catholic tradition and what the word refers to. If the answer about the origin is or is not catholic tradition that's fine, I understand that many denominations use it today and just wanted insight into the origin/conversion from scripture to widespread use.

More on the meaning of the word grace: In LDS culture we ask people to "ask a blessing on the food". Usually the actual prayer has something like Dear Heavenly Father, please bless this food for the nourishment and strengthening of our bodies, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. So I was trying to compare that to "asking grace" or "saying grace".

In a comment someone said that most Christians don't consider the food blessed after saying grace which was a surprising and helpful insight along the veins I was looking for but I was trying to make this a narrow question about Catholics' view of the word grace used in this manner.

I have also been lead through this to wonder where the LDS tradition of asking a blessing on the food came from. That's a different question though.

Original: I've heard it referred to as saying grace when you say a prayer to bless the food. Which denominations do this and is it a Catholic thing? Where did it come from?

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. For more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. The quick answer to your question is that no, saying grace before meals is not exclusively Catholic, but is widely practiced both among Christians and among non-Christians. Because your question is so broad, it might end out being closed. See: What topics can I ask about here? – Lee Woofenden Dec 10 '17 at 15:12
  • Christians say grace to give thanks to God for their food. I don't know of any Christians who consider their food "blessed" in any way after saying grace. – Mick Dec 10 '17 at 15:27
  • In LDS culture we ask people to "ask a blessing on the food". Usually the actual prayer has something like Dear Heavenly Father, please bless this food for the nourishment and strengthening of our bodies, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. So I was trying to compare that to "asking grace" or "saying grace". – T-Rez Dec 10 '17 at 23:03
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Christians of all denominations (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant) may all say grace before meals. Some do and some don't consistently or not.

The origin of the practice is from Scripture.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

1 Timothy 4:1-5

The word for thanksgiving is eucharist, which is a priestly word, denoting the sanctifying (setting apart) of the food to be received.

  • Moses also told the Israelites to thank God in prayer for their food. See Deuteronomy 8:10, although that verse suggests one should pray after the meal. – workerjoe Dec 10 '17 at 19:59
  • So you're implying that there is a possible/probable link between the 1st Timothy scripture, the word for sanctifying and people wanting a word more easy to use is why people use the term ask "grace"? – T-Rez Dec 10 '17 at 23:01
  • @T-Rez, that's an interesting question; why do we typically use the term "grace" (who will say grace) and not "thanksgiving" (who will give thanks). My guess is the historical answer lies in the usage of the word "eucharist" (thanksgiving) at 1 Tim. 4:5 that is equivalent to the Eucharist (thanksgiving) usage at the Last Supper (see Luke 22:19 with Matthew 26:27 (which connects to Deut. 8:10 symbol). In other words, give thanks is a priest action, but if one believes in the priest/laity division, then one would substitute "say grace" rather than "give thanks". – SLM Dec 11 '17 at 16:00
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    @SLM Latin (the origin of the word grace) has a few words that can mean , if you like, the same thing from opposite sides. Hostis, for example, can mean either "guest" or "host". Similarly gratia, the ancestor of grace, can mean either "a favor given" or "gratitude for a favor given". Thus one can "say grace" (until the 16th century "say graces", i.e. "offer gratitude") for a grace given to us. – Matt Gutting Jan 19 '18 at 13:47
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All Christians should "say grace"/give thanks to God for their food. As a Baptist Protestant I do, as far as I know everyone else in our fellowship gives thanks too.

The practice comes from the habit of our Saviour. Tellingly, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus finally recognised our resurrected Lord Jesus when he gave thanks for the food (Luke 24:30,31).

It isn't just the commands of our Saviour but the example of our Saviour which should be followed.

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